Arkadelphia is light on non-chain restaurants. Since the closing of Bowen's a few years ago, families have been left with few options for good eats.
That's part of the reason we're pleased Hamburger Barn has survived. The old country-style steak-and-chicken place on state Hwy. 51 a few blocks from Interstate 30 is still turning out great food for a variety of appetites.
On our first recent visit, our companion chose the Macho Nachos ($7.29). The massive bias-edged elliptical bowl held a hearty amount of the ingredients: cheese dip right on top of thin tortilla chips, chili with beans, lettuce and tomato, salsa and sour cream. The bowl is more than a meal's worth; you might want to share it with others.
We were mightily pleased with our own choice, the standard Bubba Burger ($6.79). It's a half pound of fresh-never-frozen beef char-grilled to the diner's desired doneness and served up on a big bun with the traditional fixings. Onion powder, garlic, black pepper and a touch of what we suspect to be paprika are lightly blended with the ground beef for an extraordinarily good burger; maybe one of the top five in the state. We chose to do a half-and-half for our side — the options being fries, onion rings or both — and fell in love with the beer-and-flour battered rounds, some of the best we've encountered. The skin-on fries were decent but typical.
We made a return trip to see if our previous visit had been a fluke. Our fried calamari ($5.99) was decently cooked, if a little plain, served up with a very sweet tomato marinara. We enjoyed the thin yet sturdy tortilla chips that came along with our cheese dip and salsa. The cheese dip was classic Velveeta and Rotel. The salsa was extra good, the way Arkansas salsa used to be before Pace started advertising that non-chunky salsa "came from New York City" — a fine cumin-heavy puree of tomatoes with onions. We liked it a lot.
Our companion chose the burger this time, opting for the Bacon Chipotle Burger ($7.49), which is the same as the Bubba Burger with the addition of bacon, sweet chipotle-flavored BBQ sauce and hot pepper jack cheese. This burger was beefy. The chef added big fat slices of fresh ripe tomatoes that took the juicy scale of the burger up a notch.
We also tried the chicken enchiladas ($8.99), which came with salsa and chips, a dollop of guacamole, another of sour cream and a scattering of pico de gallo on top of shredded lettuce. The enchiladas surprised us, since what we received looked like a large burrito, covered with a sour cream sauce and cheese on a bed of yellow rice. We were surprised again when we took a bite and discovered shredded chicken in a traditional red enchilada sauce on the inside.
But what we enjoyed most that visit was a side of corn — in a variety of colors, just roasted enough to take off the raw edge, freshly cut from the cob. It was excellent.Click here to find out hours and more information.